Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The soup that eats like a meal

It is often hard, or even impossible to label things black or white. In terms of math, some are 0, some are 1, but most are well in between. The life, as people say, is not all black and white, there are shades of gray. Indeed, only blind can disagree with that, and I doubt many of them actually would. Yet, when it comes to interpreting what those grays mean in our pathetic human brain, people inevitably try to relate the grays to one of the only two extremes. For practical purposes it is sometimes an inevitable necessity. For many things in this world, like life and death, are white and black, and the two worlds (the gray and the black and white) need to be reconciled.

Here is where the problems start. The approaches to reconciliation are at least two:

1. The soup that eats like a meal philosophy: "trust the gray to be black (or white) because in this case for all intents and purposes, it works just like black (or white)."

2. The soup IS the meal philosophy: "trust the gray to be black (or white) because it's color is a matter of perspective".

While the difference might at first seem subtle, it is in fact as big as differences get. #1 simply admits that sometimes in choice (much like in a war) precision needs to be sacrificed for accuracy. #2 suggests that any choice can be as precise or as accurate as one wants it to be. This assumption not only allows to shift around the point of origin of this "coordinate system", but turn the entire color scale into a complete mix of colors, allowing completely different colors to neighbor each other (while remaining seemingly coherent in one's head). This, I think, is the cornerstone argument of moral relativists. And the source of their confusion. They don't see the choice #1, and assume that the only way to disagree with them is to imagine that the world is black and white. But sometimes all the soup needs is a little bit of steering.

No comments: